Jake Hauser ’20 and Elise Koskelo ’20 are the recipients of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships from the Pomona College Class of 2020. The Graduate Research Fellowships support the graduate education of outstanding students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing three years of financial support.

Hauser, who majored in physics with minors in computer science and mathematics, is from Vancouver, Canada. With this fellowship in hand, he returns to Canada to pursue a master’s at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. After that, he plans to continue his studies toward a Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara.

Hauser says the entire Physics Department at the College were “an incredible source of support and inspiration” during his four years, as he studied and conducted research, including work on quantum optics projects with Physics Professor Dwight Whitaker. Professor of Physics Thomas Moore and the physics course Peer Mentoring in STEM also played key roles in Hauser’s development as a student scientist and teaching assistant (TA), he says. Outside of Pomona, Hauser also spent three summers conducting research at Canadian institutions.

But he didn’t only do hard science research. Together with Isaac Cui ’20, Hauser studied Pomona’s physics department retention, culminating in a 200-page report analyzing findings and proposing action items for equity in the department.

With his NSF fellowship, Hauser will study and conduct research in theoretical physics, though he’s uncertain which area exactly. After completing his Ph.D., he hopes to continue applying math and computer science tools to “interesting and challenging problems—whether in academia or in industry.”

“Regardless of where I end up, I hope that I can draw on my experience as a mentor and TA at Pomona to continue to be involved in physics education,” he says.

Koskelo, a physics and mathematics double major from Los Alamos, New Mexico, will take her NSF to Harvard for a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics, after earning her master’s through the Churchill Fellowship at the University of Cambridge.

Koskelo spent three summers as a student researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory with scientist Eric Flynn, completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Program project in Germany, and wrote her senior theses research investigating noise (stochastic processes) as a means to enhance the thermal resolution of a thermal imaging technique. Her mentors along the way were Physics Professor Janice Hudgings and Professor of Mathematics Ami Radunskaya. Koskelo gives an extra shout-out to Hudgings.

“Even when these goals seemed unattainable, Professor Hudgings encouraged me to shoot for the stars and pursue the opportunities that I would find most fulfilling and engaging,” Koskelo says.

Also a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for support for sophomores and juniors in pursuit of a career in STEM fields, she wrote a conference paper for the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and currently is working with her Pomona professors on a manuscript.

Koskelo, with her multiple awards, is rightfully excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Her hope after earning her Ph.D. is to be a professor and influence international policy through an organization such as the United Nations. This award is another rung on a ladder she is increasingly certain she can climb.

“NSF’s award has bolstered my confidence in my ability to design and carry out a research project. In addition, I greatly identify with the mission of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, that compelling science must also have broader impacts for society and for much needed diversity in the field.”